In traditional management managers are looking for laws, or regularities, to explain behaviour. They seek to apply the principles of logic. In doing this, they take the position of the objective observer who stands outside the system of interest and make hypotheses about it. They build models of the system to guide behaviour. The emphasis is on the ability to control. Little importance is attached to the notions that people may construct reality in their social interaction with each other. When a manager takes this position, the manager immediately assumes that it is his or her role to design and install some system, set of actions, motivators and so on.
This small quote from Ralph Stacey illustrates the way of thinking witinin organisations that is concerned with the traditional production factors which could relatively easily be measured through logic. However, with an economy that is increasingly more dependent on knowledge - the new production factor for innovation - organisations should look for other ways to let knowledge flow successfully in- and outside the organisation.
Knowledge: from alpha to beta
Increasingly we are understanding that we cannot control this process of knowledge flows. That’s why there always is a heated debate about what knowledge management means and why some of us do not want to use this kind of terminology. In my eyes, knowledge should be seen as beta, or as in Cohen’s et al. (1972) writing: a form of garbage-can decision making. Knowledge is an ever-evolving process that emerge over time and cannot be tracked back logically as many different factors are affecting it’s development.
Knowledge: from dependent to independent
Another reason why managers cannot maintain their tool-set - which they have used for such a long time - to model a system of behaviour, is that the holders of knowledge - the people - are increasingly being detached from the organisation. In the traditional organisation the manager was managing the people, through which the people were not free as the manager was designing and installing the system. However, while people increasingly have the ability to set-up their own office/business (I already wrote about this in an earlier post) by only using a laptop and internet connection and do not feel the need to have one job for life, there is a movement that organisations do not own the people and consequently its knowledge anymore.
Therefore, in order to make sure that the organisations still have access to the latest knowledge, organisations should become better in a networked world. This means that organisations should rethink their structures and cultures, because it is about how organisations are interacting with the holders of knowledge. People were first thought as a part of the organisation and now more as autonomous.
Are we therefore moving from a knowledge management perspective to a knowledge facilitation perspective?